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Holy Trollers: How to argue about religion online
They are the same cast of characters that surface during every online debate about religion. Do you know a "Holy Troller?"
October 5th, 2013
08:00 AM ET

Holy Trollers: How to argue about religion online

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) –"Yo mama..."

Whenever I heard those two words while growing up in inner-city Baltimore, I knew something bad was about to happen. Trading insults was a childhood ritual. But everyone understood that one subject was off-limits. You didn’t talk about anybody’s momma unless you were prepared to start swinging.

Now that I’m all grown-up, I’ve discovered a new arena for combat: The reader’s comments section for stories about religion.

When I first started writing about religion for an online news site, I eagerly turned to the comment section for my articles, fishing for compliments and wondering if I had provoked any thoughtful discussions about faith.

I don’t wonder anymore.

When I look at the comment section now, I see a whole lot of “yo mamas” being tossed about. Readers exchange juvenile insults, condescending lectures and veer off into tangents that have nothing to do with the article they just read.

For years, I’ve listened to these “holy trollers” in silence. Now I’m calling them out. I’ve learned that the same types of people take over online discussions about faith and transform them into the verbal equivalent of a food fight. You may recognize some of these characters.

You might even recognize yourself.

The Street Corner Prophet

When the Belief Blog ran a recent article on a television host who declared that atheists “don’t have to live here,” a commenter identified as “Karie” got into a heated exchange with someone who called themselves “Bible Clown.”

Karie called Bible Clown a “disgusting, deviant perverted virus,” and a “Bozo,” before ending with this prediction:

Hell is coming for you love. Special dungeon just for u and u won’t be able to die. LOL.LOL.”

The street corner prophets often act as if they’re deeply concerned about the fate of souls they disagree with, but you can tell that they relish the prospect of eternal torment for their online enemies.

Some don’t even try to hide their true motives:

“I hope you like worms because you will have your own personal worm to feed off your fat drippings in hell for all eternity…”

That’s what a commenter called “HeavenSent” said to another following an article on evangelical Pastor Rick Warren. HeavenSent ended his malediction with one word: “Amen.”

Okay, so that’s the wrong way to argue about religion online if you’re a street corner prophet. Now, here’s the right way:

Not everyone who disagrees with you deserves eternal torment. People rarely listen to someone who is in perpetual attack mode.

“We change no one’s mind by attacking,” said Charles Camosy, an ethics professor at Fordham University in New York City.

Camosy has made a career out of bridging religious differences. He’s part of a “Contending Modernites” group, which finds common ground between Christians and Muslims. He’s also the co-founder of a website devoted to dialing down the heat in religious arguments entitled, “Catholic Moral Theology.”

Camosy says that online discussions about religion are difficult because they are not in person. Tone and nuance gets lost online.

“You can’t look them in the face,” he said. “You can’t shake their hand or give a hug. You find it very difficult to have that sort of embodied trust.”

The Provoker

There isn’t any notion of “embodied trust” with the next online character: The provoker.

The provoker doesn’t even pretend to care about the final destination for someone’s soul. They come out punching, and they love to say things that they probably wouldn’t say to someone in person.

In the recent article on Warren, a reader who went by the surname of “Just the Facts Ma’am,” tells another:

“Thanks for once again confirming how vulgar, uneducated and delusional you are Meredith.”

In an article about millennials leaving the church, a reader who identified herself as “Jenna,” tells another: “Jesus never said any of that mess. You are a false prophet if I’ve ever seen one.”

How to argue about religion if you’re a provoker:

No one will listen to you if they don’t like you, said Joe Carter, an evangelical blogger and author of “How to Argue like Jesus,” a book that explores how Jesus verbally tangled with his enemies and persuaded his friends.

Carter said Jesus was such an excellent communicator because he told stories that provoked emotions, took surprising twists and forced people to draw their own conclusions. But he also connected with people because of a simple reason: he cared about them.

“When people know that you care about them, they’re more likely to be persuaded by you,” Carter said. “We tend to be persuaded by people we like and trust. Jesus had that in spades.”

The Atheist

One of my best friends was an atheist. Whenever we ran into one other, we’d launch into these long, philosophical discussions about religion.  I loved it. Like many atheists I subsequently met, I discovered that he knew more about the Bible than most people who claimed to be religious.

It’s too bad that many of the exchanges between atheists and people of faith in our comments section don’t follow the same script. In fact, they have some of the nastiest religious arguments I’ve witnessed online.

A sample:

In a recent Belief Blog article about atheism, a reader identifying himself as “Sam Stone” says to another: “Free people do not need a savior, Kate. Only slaves need saviors.”

Another reader who identifies himself as “CamDEn1” tells a Christian, “You are an uneducated fool. Ever you heard of Richard Dawkins? Sam Harris? Atheists have more respected scholars than Christianity…”

I get the source of frustration for some atheists. They have longed been caricatured by people of faith as moral degenerates who don’t care about morality. Some of them, in turn, have caricatured people of faith as weak-minded hypocrites who believe in fairy tales.

Here’s how to argue over religion if you’re an atheist:

Get beyond the stereotypes and actually spend time with a person of faith. And if you’re a person of faith, do the same with an atheist. You might be surprised.

That’s what happened when Camosy, the Fordham University ethics professor, embarked on a speaking tour with the renowned atheist and philosopher, Peter Singer, who is seen by many as the founder of the animal rights movement.

Camosy said the speaking tour forced him to read and pay attention to Singer’s arguments. He discovered that they share concerns over global poverty. He saw Singer as a person of good will.

“That created the space for us to have an honest, open and fruitful exchange with one another rather than exchanging barbs,” Camosy said.

It also created the space for personal transformation.

“Actually reading him converted me to being a vegetarian,” Camosy said. “But it was only being open to his arguments that made me see.”

The Scholar

I have a friend who is smart – scary smart.  He’s a genial, funny guy who happens to be a theology professor. I try to hang with him when we talk religion, but there’s always a point in the conversation when he loses me. I compare that moment to watching the starship Enterprise go into warp drive. He just goes into hyperspace and my brain just isn’t big enough to follow.

There a lot of big brains in our blog’s comment sections. I call these readers “the scholars.”

Some of them are self-appointed biblical experts. They talk as if they have God’s cell phone number: God has revealed great mysteries to them. They know the divine plan.

In a recent article I wrote about contemporary Christians feeling as if they were persecuted, a reader identified as “Tom Skylark” let me know what all this persecution was really about.

 Skylark said:

“Christians will face continued persecution then 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 will happen right before the 7 year tribulation when Israel burns Russia’s weapons for 7 years. (Ezekiel 39:9). Those who are not taken in the rapture will have the opportunity to receive Christ during the 7 year tribulation but will be beheaded for their testimony. (Revelation 20:4). How far is Russia towards its prophetic position which means the rapture (! Thessalonians 4:16-17) is even closer?

Actually, I did not know that, and I’m still not sure what it means.

Sometimes the scholar is someone who believes all religion is hopelessly derivative: it’s all based on something that came before.

A reader by the name of “Seyedibar” responded to my article on Christian persecution with this:

“A little study of history and comparative religion goes a long way. Abraham is based on an Egyptian figure. His god was Ptah, not El, and his vision was of Memphis, not Israel. Jesus was likely based on a Merkabah mystic, one of a hairdresser and carpenter. .. And if you back a little further, Uguritic archaeology shows us that the book of Genesis is based on the ancestor kings of the Canaanites. Most Christians and Jews aren’t aware that the creator of the Garden of Eden, El, is recorded to have died of a wild boar attack.”

 Like I said, hyperspace. I just can’t go where “Seyedibar” has gone before. I love the scholar’s passion for religion, but some of them lose me when they try to deploy all their knowledge of history and religion in any effort to change someone else’ beliefs.

How to argue about religion if you’re a scholar:

Accept that there is a limit to knowledge. I’ve never seen anyone say in response to a religious argument: “You are right. Your argument is irrefutable. I’m going to jettison a lifetime of beliefs on the spot right now because I obviously have no coherent reply.”

It just doesn’t happen.

Gordon Newby, a professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory University, said most people change religious beliefs “not because of one argument” but only after long conversations and intimate exposure to another faith.

“Logical arguments are nice but they're not going to change someone’s life,” Newby said. “We’re way too complicated for that. We’re not programmed machines. We have this whole limbic system of emotions and appetites and everything else.”

The Peacemaker

There are some readers who give me hope when I go to the comment section. They are the “peacemakers,” and they surely bless me with their attitudes.

Peacemakers try to keep arguments from getting personal. They are the online referees.  They turn the other cheek.

An exchange between someone called “Bootyfunk” and “KatieRose” shows a peacemaker in action.

“Bootyfunk”  gets upset with “KatieRose” because she says  “we must respect all ideas in the world, no matter how crazy.”

Bootyfunk says people don’t have to respect all ideas, and tells Katie Rose she shouldn't tell people not to debate religion on a blog about religion.

What does KatieRose say in response? She doesn’t go to war. She makes the peace:

“Okay! That works for me,” KatieRose said. “I’m sorry if it sounded like I was ordering people not to talk about an issue: I just disagreed with the focus of the discussion.”

“Bootyfunk” ends the discussion with a smiley-face symbol and a “smooches, Katie.”

How to argue about religion if you’re a peacemaker:

Keep on doing what you’re doing.

If only the rest of the comment section had more peacemakers. I actually e-mailed readers like “Bootyfunk” and “KatieRose” to get their perspective, but all I got was silence. Not one commenter wanted to talk on the record for this story. Only one person – an atheist – responded to my invitations to chat, and he didn’t want his name used.

But I have a feeling I’ll hear again from these holy trollers when I scan the comment section of Belief Blog. So will you, even if you don’t read that much about religion. These holy trollers show up in our lives and our workplaces. Many of them will sit next to us at the dinner table when families and friends get together for the upcoming holidays.

When the conversation turns to religion, you may meet your holy troller, and you will have to make a choice.

Do I make the peace, or do I go the war?

What kind of holy troller will you be?

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Ethics • Internet • News media • Nones

soundoff (3,856 Responses)
  1. tony

    A pregnant atheist woman and a religious man sit down to debate.

    Lets agree that you are only half pregnant says the man.

    October 5, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Larry

      What's that supposed to mean? You either believe in a god, of gods, or you don't. Atheists don't. Nothing "half" about that.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  2. fumota68

    cool 🙂 bigots arguing with bigots.

    October 5, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • lagergeld

      And slapping such people with the label makes you one.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  3. AhhhhhZombies!

    "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours" – Stephan Roberts

    truer words have never been spoken. soon enough christianity and everything else will go the way of zeus, rah, ramses, neptune, etc. its just a matter of time.

    October 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  4. JEZUTH,,,, JEZUTH CHRIST!!!

    It's sometimes hard to be tolerable when some people of faith become vicious and intolerable themselves trying to preach the good deeds of there god.

    October 5, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • lagergeld

      I think you mean it's hard to be TOLERANT toward people preaching THEIR god. You say this as if it were a one-way street. It isn't.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  5. Jerry

    I read and agree with this piece. But it reminded me of one of my favorite Mullah Nasruddin teaching stories. Make of it what you will. It's called "You’re Right"

    Judge Nasrudin was listening to a case. After hearing the plaintiff present his side, Nasrudin remarked, “You’re right.”

    Then, after the defendant had presented his case, Nasrudin again remarked, “Yes, you’re right.”

    Nasrudin’s wife had been listening to the case, and remarked, “that doesn’t make any sense—how can both the defendant and palintiff be right?”

    “You know what?” Nasrudin responded. “You’re right, too!”

    October 5, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • magicpanties

      That's claptrap.
      The truth does matter, and hint, hint... it ain't religion.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  6. Robert

    Religion of all forms is nothing more than a cult - cultivated by brainwashing that starts at a very early age by the parents of the next generation. There is no difference when it comes down to it between what is written in the Old Testament, the Quran, and those beliefs of the Branch Dividians and we remember how that ended. Sure the details were different, but reading the New/Old Testament, and the Quran ... and taking them out of context of "religion" and they are no more crazy.

    I am sorry, all religions are nothing more than cults. The continuance of their existence can be blamed on no one more than parents who from an early age allow their children to be brainwashed ... and who are at this point likely to continue said brainwashing. It continues mainly out of fear. The fear to be different. The fear to stand alone amongst your so called friends and neighbors. In many areas of the world, the fear is real as are the repercussions. For weak men, add in the fear of a different life when there is no more misogyny.

    Just like most people will work hard to protect their family members from a cult, so will I will the rest of humanity. We need to break the chains of these cults so that people can think and behave freely and rationally. People have been proven to be good, kind, and compassionate when free of religion. It brings no societal value.

    Call me militant or whatever you want, but I will not stand by and let humanity be dominated by the cults or organized religion. I consider it a duty to do my small part, whatever that may be, to end these cults. If I can sew even one small seed of doubt in one cult member, then I have done good. That seed will grow and it will spread. There is a reason that where oppression does not exist that people are throwing off the shackles of these cults. Break the cult cycle, and that will continue to grow.

    So no, I will not "play nice" because a cult is a cult is a cult. I have religious friends and while I respect them as people, I do not respect their belief and membership in a cult. I do not respect that they brainwash their kids into the same cult.

    I don't have to be accepting of others beliefs any more than I have to be accepting of the person who says the earth is square. They are both wrong. I am okay with the person who thinks the earth is square keeps it to himself, but when he starts to brainwash his young children to believe the same, then no, I am not okay with that.

    And therein in the issue. To "accept" others religious beliefs is in many cases to accept child abuse as you know those people will brainwash their children, and their grandchildren with the same lies they were brainwashed with. With most "cults", we take children away from parents that do that.

    So if I step on some toes, hurt feelings, come across as disrespectful at times ... so be it.

    The cult problem is huge, must be dealt with, and someone has to do it, one step and one post at a time.

    October 5, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • magicpanties

      Well said.

      If parents didn't allow their kids to be indoctrinated with the same fairly tales, organized religion would quickly fade away.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • justageek

        Obviously. So would things like race wars if kids didn't learn it from adults. What's your point exactly?

        October 5, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
      • lagergeld

        So would secular liberal progressivism. Why is it so many young people's minds are awash in it? It's basically all they get from television, entertainment, and school teachers. Take out that influence, what happens?

        October 5, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
        • Robert

          I guarantee with 100% certainty, that today, with our knowledge base, that if religion did not exist, then it never ever would, at least not in any organized form.

          Secular liberal progressivism is not a "belief" .... it is an absence of one inflicted on others, a point you seem to miss.

          October 5, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • lagergeld

          Secular liberal progressives don't inflict belief on others?

          Uh, yeah......

          October 5, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • justageek

      "Religion of all forms is nothing more than a cult " – You're funny dude. So out of touch of reality using terms like that.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • magicpanties

        Look up cult in the dictionary.
        He was very accurate.

        October 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
        • justageek

          From Merriam..."a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous" – I would argue the use of the term in this case is done for no other reason than to insult since it was used by the OP to describe ALL which technically is not the real definition.

          October 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
        • Robert

          STATISTICALLY, NO RELIGION represents more than about 15% of the population of the earth. Within those religions, no particular sect represents more than about 5%. 5% is hardly the "norm" by any standard. Add in that any given religion in one area would be considered crazy in another area, then you definitely do not have anything approaching a "norm".

          October 5, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • andros

      Cool story, bro!

      October 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • lagergeld

      How is pushy secular liberalism such as yours any better than pushy "cults"? You're donig what you complain they are doing, going off on weird rants, and even worse than that, vowing to destroy those who disagree with you.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
      • justageek

        He is as much a troll as any of the others pushing their beliefs.

        October 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
        • Robert

          That is where you lack of logic falls down. Atheism is not a "belief". Religion is. One cannot "believe" in the truth, it is either true or it is not. Atheist believe in proven truths, not unprovable "beliefs".

          Your beliefs are nothing but the product of years and decades of brainwashing that started at a very early age when you were impressionable and easy to mold. An empty vessel that was filled with fairy tales told often enough to be warped into truth.

          I don't have "beliefs" ... I have knowledge.

          October 5, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
      • lagergeld

        Robert, atheism is no more proven than religion is.

        October 5, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
        • Robert

          Atheism is not a "proof". One does not prove that something does not exist. All one can do is prove that something does exist. The existence of god has never ever ever been proven ... not even remotely close ...

          To that end, Atheism is based on proof, theism fairy tales.

          October 5, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  7. will fargo

    Hey Reality #2, you forgot about Scientology. What's up with that religion anyway? The only thing I can tell is they dress like ensigns.

    October 5, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  8. GAW

    The author forgot to mention the folks who copy and paste paragraphs of information and 10 points on this or that.

    October 5, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • lagergeld

      Or respond to specific questions with generalized talking points, as if they inhaled the belief without personal reflection?

      October 5, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  9. James Bell

    In my humble opinion:

    I feel discussion about religion, when done respectfully, is a healthy thing. I do not see religion as literal accounts of history; rather, I see it as a vast collection of wisdom and allegory bequeathed to us all by our ancestors, so that we might find peace between each other, and within ourselves.

    It is clear to me that most of us are just trying to better understand the world, and our place within it. Most of us do not want to feel alone in our search. Too often we allow differences between our beliefs to obstruct and distract from what we really long for: philosophical companionship that counters our otherwise perpetual and sometimes unbearable existential angst. It is human nature to seek out like-minded people and form friendships; yet, it is also within human nature to want to push away, or even destroy, that which one does not understand. For lack of understanding produces fear, and fear tends toward anger, and anger tends toward destruction, even of oneself.

    Promote understanding, and you promote compassion. Promote compassion, and you eliminate the cycle of fear, both within yourself and within others.

    Kind Regards,

    James

    October 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      James, you have a very poor understanding of religion. It is not to promote cooperation between others and it is not healthy for the planet.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
      • GAW

        Your paint brush is pretty wide there dude. Looks like you got it all figured out.

        October 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • James Bell

        U.D., Your response sounds as if you have only been able to find what is wrong with religion, rather than what is right with it.
        Nevertheless, you seemed to have missed my point. Religion is not the point or the focus in my response. What we all have in common, and what most of us are searching for – whether by means of studying religion, philosophy, or coming to a belief board to read and post comments – this is what I am referring to.

        October 5, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
      • lagergeld

        To think everything should be cooperative is socialistic claptrap. Humans are like other animals; we compete and sometimes cooperate, depending on the situtation and our interetsts. In this case, your battle isn't against religion but against nature itself.

        October 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • James Bell

          Strive to be better.

          October 5, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Religion creates "unity" by enforcing an "us vs them" mentality. You are good if you are part of the group. If you are not part of the group, you are suspect, and must either be converted or marginalized. If you are converted, you are embraced and befriended. If you are not converted, the consequences could include shunning or discrimination, and historically, even death. On a larger scale, not converting could lead to war, even between different sects of the same cult.

      I fail to see the positives of this form of social control.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
      • James Bell

        The point about my post is not about religion. The last line sums up my point. Religion is not required.

        October 5, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
      • SmartLawyer

        17 extra blblical non christian sources about Jesus:

        17 extra-biblical, non-christian (meaning, not the 4 Gospels, Pauline letters, James, John, Peter, Jude or the writer of Hebrews): that testify as to the life, death, claims and resurrection of Jesus:
        1.Tacticus
        2. Suetonious
        3. Josephus
        4. Thallus
        5. Pliny the Younger
        6. Trajan
        7. Hadrian
        8. Akiba
        9. Toledoth Jesu
        10. Lucian
        11. Mara-Bar Serapion
        12. Valentinus
        13.Acts of Pontius Pilate
        14. Phlegon
        15. [Gnostic] Gospel of Thomas
        16. [Gnostic] Treatise of Resurrection
        17. Julius Africanus

        October 5, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
        • tallulah13

          This list has been debunked on this blog many, many times. It's simple: Not one of those authors is a contemporary of Christ. They all wrote after a cult of Christ had been established.

          Next?

          October 5, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Religion might be ok after the unproven-after-centuries-of-claims-supernatural-god crap is removed.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
      • James Bell

        Again, religion is not the point.

        October 5, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  10. Ramon F Herrera

    For the record:

    – Most Catholics vote Democrat

    – Jews are the 2nd most loyal Democrat voters, after Black folks

    Those facts put into evidence that the "it is the gifts" argument is pure bovine manure.

    Hint: IT IS THE HATRED, STUPID!!

    October 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Food fight

      For the record the Catholic church endorsed the right wing struggle to end the separation of church and state.

      Read what the Catholic encyclopedia has to say about it.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
      • lagergeld

        "Right wing struggle"? I'd love to see someone see ending the separation of church and state in the GOP Platform.

        October 5, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  11. Gregory

    When I die, I hope I can say "Well, look here. I was wrong.

    October 5, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      I am waiting for the next part please.......

      October 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • tallulah13

      If you have something to say, it's best to do so before you die, because there's no logical reason to believe that you will exist to say anything after.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  12. Food fight

    If you stand against church politics then you surely must be under the influence of the devil.

    October 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  13. Jesus Christ Son of God

    I've got to get back to some stuff I need to do this weekend. If anyone proves that Jesus or God is real while I'm gone, let me know.

    October 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Food fight

      Why do you need proof to validate or invalidate the principles?

      October 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Aren't principles validated by their usefulness?

        October 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  14. Ramon F Herrera

    I am a newcomer to America, but the one thing I learned years ago, is about those who call themselves "Conservatives".

    Conservatism (the Extreme Kind) is based on 5 principles:

    (1) Hate and Fear
    (2) Hate and Fear
    (3) Hate and Fear
    (4) Hate and Fear
    (5) Hate and Fear

    Then there is a distant 6th. and 7th.

    (6) The implicit belief that Time Travel will address their needs
    (7) Lack of Compassion

    October 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • ace

      Ramon,
      Welcome to the USA. Sadly, I think you are right.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • lagergeld

      Ramon, congratulations. You're officially a walking stereotype.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  15. bostontola

    Just because I think every religion is false doesn't mean I'm anti-religion.

    October 5, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • will fargo

      On the one hand this makes sense, on the other it makes no sense. Maybe this conundrum is like a microcosm of religion for many people. Pure ambiguity..and in the case of many (not all of course) people, that ambiguity forces blind faith and a surrender to the irrational in order to feel there is something real to hold onto and calm the inner confusion. Just an idea. I think there is really a small percentage of self-proclaimed religious people who are really sincere about it. When someone is spouting disgust and disdain for others in the name of their beliefs, they mostly just talk the talk like their on a dry drunk high.. pure, base self indulgence in ego. Just one mortal's opinion! Love this article, he's spot on.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • zoe

      if you believe All religions are not true then you dont believe in religion ... against the belief of religion. o.O anti-religion.

      October 5, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  16. southernsuga

    I really liked this article. I smiled and frowned and smiled again. The article left me smiling again. God Bless all of you!

    October 5, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
  17. assisi

    The arguments about religion are meaningless today – capitalism has replaced all major religions.

    October 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      That's both true and frightening.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • lagergeld

      As well as secular humanism. After all, without religion, a void need be filled, no?

      October 5, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
      • tallulah13

        Secular humanism exists outside of religion. It is simply plain old compassion and empathy - very human reactions, no supernatural daddies needed.

        October 5, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  18. kamanalono

    All gods speak with forked tongue. With one tongue they promise everlasting peace and joy if you put money in the collection plate each sabath day; with their other tongue they threaten unending pain and sorrow if you fail to put money in the plate for even one sabath day.

    October 5, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Don

      I know that some religions or denominations promotes those types of views, but not all of them do.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Francisco Decastro

      Before posting someting like that, you should act like that is the case with every single religion. People pay the money because the bible guides people to do it, but having a church badmouth, insult, or throw fear into someone who does not put money in that plate, is not something my church does. I have never seen my church say bad things to people who do not put money into the church.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • Don

        Francisco: I agree that many, I think even most churches are not like what Kamanalono thinks them to be, Unfortunately, I have experienced some churches that do practice such strict, judgmental teachings. Sadly, these churches damage all if us because many people who encounter them come to the conclusion that all churches must be like that,

        October 5, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  19. CALiberal

    Religion and Politics. People get nasty. Go off on unrelated tangents. I have some hope for these comments. They seem like a way for everybody to argue and trade ideas. Better some dialogue than none. But when people get nasty and insulting or bring an agenda to hijack the conversation it doesn't help anybody.

    October 5, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  20. Don

    One of the things I try to remember when posting on any topic is that the goal should not be to try and prove the other person to be wrong. Even if I disagree with someone's views, it is highly unlikely they will change those view due to some comments I make on a discussion forum. This is especially true when the topic concerns faith. I am not going to change someone's views concerning faith. Why would I want to? I don't want other people telling me what I should or should not believe, so why would I do that to others?

    I find the best was to discuss anything is to try to explain why I believe what I believe and try to understand why the other person believes as they do. The goal is not to prove something or win a debate, but understand the differences and commonalities. That way, when the discussion is done, we don't see each other as opponents, but merely as two people who disagree. I know that it sounds corny, but its the best approach I have found.

    October 5, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • Jen

      Don, I think that is just wimping out. Discussions are bound to get heated. The consequences of belief in a superstition can have consequences for all of us, even influencing the laws and social norms that we have to live within, and so it is very important that beliefs such as religious ones be challenged as appropriate. If the believers in the obviously false or otherwise unsupportable ones don't have the courage to face it when their arguments don't hold up, well, that is not a reason to let up on them.

      October 5, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
      • Don

        I agree that faith can and should be challenged when it impacts others, but not all aspects of faith impact other people. I believe in God. That belief, taken on its own, does not impact you. If I take actions based on that believe that infringe on you (something I try very hard not to do), then you have every right to challenge me, However, a question such as "Is there a God?" is different in my opinion and since it is very unlikely that anything either of us say here will change the others opinion, I see it as more productive to seek to understand why we each believe what we believe, rather than to try and prove one view over another.

        October 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
        • Jen

          Don, your assumption that others have no comprehension of why you believe what you believe is fallacious out of the gate. It is also patently false that your beliefs do not affect your views and actions.

          I stand by what I said. Superstition such as religion has consequences.

          October 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.